While much of AN discussion the past few weeks has focused on the need to improve the offense, particularly by trading Mulder, Zito, Blanton, etc. for a big bat, some stats may indicate that what the A's need to do is improve their pitching, not their hitting.
If everyone is back from last year and Swisher produces about the same as Dye, which is certainly possible, then the A's should score about the same number of runs in 2005 as in 2004. In fact, compared to other years, it appears A's run production was not the problem in 2004. The problem was the runs allowed. Let's look at the last four years.
In 2004, the A's scored 793 runs, which was 25 runs better than in 2003, and only 7 worse than in 2002. Yet the A's won 96 games in 2003 and 103 games in 2002 but only won 91 games in 2004.
The reason? Look at opponents runs scored: In 2004, the A's gave up nearly 100 runs more than the team did in 2003 (and 2001), and 88 more runs than in 2002. This doesn't factor in fielding but it appeared that the A's fielding overall was perhaps better in 2004 than in previous years.
Of course, it would be great to score 884 runs as the team did in 2001, but to increase run production by making trades that would likely translate into allowing more opponent runs scored in 2005 than even in 2004 would probably not help the team.
Folks can comment on what they think these stats mean. One reasonable conclusion is that Billy Beane might want to take the more controversial course of NOT making a big trade for a power hitter and concentrate almost exclusively on bolstering the pitching staff. I know that may not be the popular view but it appears that would be a reasonable course.
A's Runs Opponents Runs
2004 793 742
2003 768 643
2002 800 654
2001 884 645